espresso

  • Coffee Roasts: Shades, Names and Flavors

    Back in May, we wrote a little bit about Italian vs. French Roasts, but lately we have been sampling a lot of different roast and blend types and decided to read more about the basic theory behind roasting and blending. In our research, we ran across Kenneth Davids' excellent table describing the different roast styles and their corresponding flavor, so we thought we'd reprint it here for easy future reference.
  • Crew Review: Rancilio Epoca E Commercial Espresso Machine

    The Rancilio Epoca E is a commercial-class automatic dosing espresso machine that features highly advanced heat exchange and boiler temperature/pressure management technology, which makes whipping up a long line of lattes or cappuccinos ridiculously easy. It can be configured for either 110v or 220v, is plumbed-in and drain-out only and is available in either 1 or 2 group heads.

    Watch Gail as she talks about the machine and shows us how it works. Beautiful!

    While it may be a little bit of a stretch (for both your pocketbook and your kitchen space!), the Epoca single group would make a great choice for someone who wants to take a step up from a home machine into one that has a significantly more powerful boiler -- the steaming functionality on these commercial class machines just can't be beat.

  • Italian Roast vs. French Roast

    We've found that we generally prefer medium roasted coffees because we're able to taste a more diverse palette of flavors in a specific coffee blend. However, we know that there are die-hard devotees of dark roasted coffee and we were recently asked what the difference was between French Roast and Italian Roast.

    They're both roasted quite darkly, so that they have an oily sheen to them after the roasting process is complete. With a French Roast, the temperature of the roast is high enough that these oils are brought to the surface and will impart a roasted flavor to the produced coffee or espresso. Aromas can vary from berry to citrus. Italian Roast is much darker and oilier than a French Roast and often preferred in Italy.

    If a coffee is described as being a French or Italian roast, it isn't because they were grown or roasted in these countries, just that the roaster utilized this generalized roast level for that blend of beans. You can read more about roasting in our article It Starts with Great Coffee.

    What is your preferred roast or blend and why? We'd love to hear about some of your favorites!

  • Tech Tip: Superautomatics and Oily Beans

    We have written before about the no love lost between superautomatic espresso machines and oily, dark roasted coffee beans, but when we got a machine in the repair center last week that was caked to the gills with coffee cement, we just had to film it and show you what we're talking about.

    Watch Gail take apart the grinder of a Saeco Vienna superautomatic espresso machine and show what happens over time to the internal grinders on these machines if someone is using super-dark and oily beans. We definitely recommend sticking with a lighter, drier roast for the long term health of your machine -- and now you'll see why!

  • Coffee in High Altitudes

    It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were wondering in the store how brewing coffee or pulling espresso differs at higher altitudes. We're basically at sea level here, but we'd been talking about the kind of coffee some of us have found in the higher elevations of Montana -- more bitter and like 'coffee water' than what we make and drink here.

    We found the answer in this interesting piece on coffee in Santa Fe, NM. A Qasimi discusses how the higher altitude affects brewing and roasting:

    I don?t drink home-brewed coffee in Santa Fe. I?ve often found it sour and lacking in the depth, robustness and natural sweetness that makes great coffee great. How does high altitude affect coffee and espresso quality at home and with the use of commercial equipment? Drip coffee machines that merely boil are convenient devices but they deliver water to the grounds at below the ideal range of temperatures, leading to underextraction of the beans and a sour, dull or poorly developed brew.

    Thus, the only way to compensate for altitude is pressure -- and that means espresso -- but pulling a proper espresso shot is not easy at this altitude either. Ironically, though the best coffee grows at higher altitudes, with water?s lower boiling point in elevated places, brewing can get tricky. Roasting, on the other hand, merely benefits from altitude: The best possible results come from roasting the beans at the same altitude as they?ll be used and particularly at high altitudes that allow for faster roast development at lower temperatures

  • Ask the Experts: What's the Difference Between Pressurized and Non-Pressurized Filter Baskets?

    We brought out the big machines for today’s top three double boiler espresso machines, the La Marzocco Linea Mini, Rocket Espresso R58 Dual Boiler and Breville Dual Boiler. Double boiler espresso machines are equipped with two boilers: a brew boiler and a steam boiler. While the steam boilers reach and hold pressure ideal for frothing milk, the other maintains consistent brewing temperature. Chances are in your search for a high-quality espresso machine, you’ve read the debate between double boilers and heat exchange espresso machines. Coffee enthusiasts have long expressed their opinions about the pros and cons of each boiler type and we suspect it’ll continue on. One of the benefits dual boilers reap is temperature stability and the capability to brew more drinks back-to-back than a heat exchanger. Not to mention that, like a heat exchanger, you can brew and steam simultaneously. A double boiler machine is for someone who wants to brew multiple drinks back-to-back and requires a faster turnaround time.
  • 4...3...2...1...Pulling Delicious Shots with the La Pavoni

    People often think that La Pavoni's manual lever espresso machines are overly complex throwbacks created just for hardcore purists, but they're actually relatively easy machines to use -- and they make amazing espresso!

    In this video, watch Gail use the La Pavoni for the first time, experimenting with different grind levels in order to get a great shot.

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